Adolf Hitler was a great leader, and very effective and truly inspiring. It proves the point that not all leaders are good leaders; indeed, some are downright evil.
Everyone has the opportunity to rise to the challenge of leadership, because everyone provides leadership at some time or other. Bosses are leaders, but so too are mothers in the home, fathers, as well as students who are given responsibility. Indeed, any person with responsibility is a leader. We are leaders even as we lead ourselves diligently.
The key challenge, then, is to become a virtuous leader.
The Elements in Virtuous Leadership
Virtuous leadership is dependent on wholeness, integrity, and perseverance.
If there is one thing we want to move toward it is to become whole. Wholeness, as a vehicle for life, is experienced when we can give more than we take. Whole people no longer need to take. It is gratitude that brings people to wholeness.
Indeed, gratitude is the only thing that moves us toward wholeness.
The more we wish to give, the less needy we are.
A second goal is that of growing toward integrity. People with integrity can be trusted. We can leave them in the room by themselves to do the work assigned to them. They can work unsupervised. What brings people to integrity is humility. And humility is engendered through serving. We need to be able to ask ourselves, “What am I ‘too good’ to do?” Humble people aren’t too good to do anything; they cheerfully go about their work no matter what it is.
The third goal is that of growing in perseverance. People who are unable to persevere may be very sincere, so it isn’t insincerity that is the problem. What helps our perseverance is faithfulness – the ability to keep doing the right thing. This is the quality of reliability, and again, trustworthiness.
The outcomes of virtuous leadership are threefold.
Firstly, those with integrity are able to be courageous, as we acknowledge this truth: Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it is the absence of self. When we have integrity issues of compromise don’t get a look in. Fear is subjugated.
Secondly, those who have wholeness are generous people; they are generative, creative types. They are always constructing and building. They always want to give more than they take.
Thirdly, those who persevere end up becoming wise, and it is at this point that we need to acknowledge the growth away from foolishness. As perseverance has exceeded sincerity, wisdom also does what needs doing through the best of decisions, one after another.
When we hear God right, we hear that our greatest responsibility and privilege is to lead well, which is a virtuous leadership. Whether we are children or adults, students or teachers, employees or employers, parishioners or pastors matters little. They are all required to provide leadership. We all have the opportunity to be an example.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.
Acknowledgement: to Pastor Erwin McManus, teacher at Mosaic Church, teaching on Ethos.